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The University of California San Diego

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Date: Dec 31 1969
Major: Engineering Department (This Major's Salary over time)
You shouldn’t go to UCSD if you satisfy three or more of the following:

1. You are not an engineering/science major.

2. You do not like the beach.

3. You drink alcohol and/or take recreational drugs.

4. You are not Christian and do not attend church regularly.

5. You want a typical college experience.

You should go to UCSD if you satisfy three or more of the following:

1. You are a devout Christian.

2. You plan to go to the beach everyday.

3. You like studying and do not socialize very often.

4. You do not party.

5. You do not like participating/watching competitive sports.

Before you read this, let me start off by saying that although I do not like UCSD there are people that genuinely love this school. If you know that you will love the atmosphere and academics of UCSD, then you should not read the following paragraphs. Like others have mentioned, visit the school. I would highly recommend trying to do an unofficial overnight stay (with a friend who already attends) during a weekday and a weekend to get a general feel for campus life. UCSD does not offer overnight visits in the dorms so that you can get a better feel of the general student body.

I had heard that UCSD was a pretty serious school and not really a party school, but when you hear things second hand, you never take them as seriously. When you hear that the school is serious, you always think that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. I mean, there are 20,000 students here, there has to be a lot of parties and a lot of school spirit…no.

The general atmosphere of UCSD is shockingly boring and depressing. Almost every, not all, students come to UCSD because they did not get into the much more prestigious UCs in Berkeley and LA…including myself. UCSD immediately becomes the 2nd choice school that no one really wants to go to. You can definitely tell that most people don’t really want to be at UCSD, but it was the best academic school available. If I could do it again, I would have chosen a different major and gone to UCSB. At least in Santa Barbara people want to go to school there and are having fun. If you are in a competitive major, which I strictly limit to science and engineering majors, then you will not have a well balanced college life. Because the student body in these areas is extremely competitive, not so much smart, but competitive, you are going to be studying quite a bit. The students that are really dedicated to their academic work alone are non-existent around campus, except for the few blips to the far right of the bell curve. I remember seeing people studying in their rooms during welcome week this year…we hadn’t even started classes. It was a good preview of what things were to come from this school…

The academics are mediocre at best. I am dead serious when I say that you should not even consider UCSD if you are not a science/engineering major. Although all undergraduates are not getting the education they deserve, if you are a social sciences major, you are non-existent at UCSD and the students and faculty could care less of your presence. UCSD’s reputation has been propelled strictly by the engineering department. If the engineering school were to secede, UCSD would not have any academic reputation. I will say that education is better than a lot of schools, such as the majority of the small catholic/relgious private schools, e.g. Chapman University, Loyola Marymount University, Azusa Pacific University, Occidental College, etc. However, the education is by no stretch “top notch” and “excellent”. The faculty is not here to teach; they are here to get their PhDs or are brought in to do research. Teaching is a chore and is never the primary reason why teachers are at UCSD. I literally had a professor complain to our class because he had heard students complaining that he was a bad teacher. He told us that we shouldn’t “bitch” because our tuition does not even contribute to his salary. He then went on and on about how he brought in millions of government research dollars and that UCSD took half of it away.

You have an equal chance of getting a good teacher, as you do a bad teacher. You may have a really impressive chemistry teacher fall quarter, but winter quarter you may get an egotistical professor that has just come out of graduate school. Definitely take advantage of RateMyProfessor and other sites because the professor you have could be the difference between and “A” or a “C”.

Like many science and engineering majors, I had to apply for my major during the Fall of my senior year in high school. I had no idea how big of an impact this would have on my academic career at UCSD. If you are trying to get into any impacted major, meaning you can only get in by applying as a Freshman or being a transfer student, there is absolutely no way that you can get in. It doesn’t matter if you have a 4.0 GPA and have written letters of recommendation from professors in the department, they will not let you switch into impacted majors. You are the stuck either finishing in a major you do not want to be in or you can switch into a major completely disparate from your chosen field of study.

If you didn’t spend your high school career doing community college courses and useless AP classes, then you are at an EXTREME disadvantage. You register for classes based on how many units you enter the school with. I only came in with 12 units because I had taken the only two APs that had any significance towards my major requirements. Four of my suitemates will technically be juniors their sophomore year, one entering UCSD with over 64 units. Why the f*ck should someone other student register before me when they have credits for courses that do not apply towards your major? I overloaded each quarter this year and even by my senior year I will not be able to register before others who are have taken below the typical course load every single quarter. UCSD should give registration times based on lotteries.

Before I became accustomed to the UCSD college system, I saw UCSD as the perfect opportunity to collide with hundreds of amazing individuals. There are six colleges within the university; each varies in terms of its general education requirements and location on campus. Consequently, each sub-school tends to attract a certain type of student and fails to create a smaller diverse setting. The system actually makes it harder to meet someone outside of your designated college. If you are planning on going to UCSD, I would choose Muir College. They have the easiest core requirements and the best collection of people. If you are an engineer, I know that Warren looks tempting because of its relatively easy core requirements. But, trust me; I would rather do more general education classes than live in Warren College. Warren College is the epitome of the negative aspects of UCSD. If you are Caucasian and don’t want to feel like a needle in a haystack of Asians, go to ERC. Don’t go to six college, their GE’s are horrid and their housing is even worse.

From my experience, UCSD students are mostly very nice and caring people…I was actually amazed at how friendly students are around campus. However, nice does not mean interesting or sociable. A lot of people here have very bad social skills and little to no personality. You may not have to worry about the bullies and stereotypical jocks around campus, but the campus atmosphere is extremely quiet. Many times I have walked across campus any time between 10 PM to 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays and I will not see any signs of life. This is very creepy on a college campus and by no means normal.

I think the campus security is responsible for quite a bit of the quite social scene at UCSD. Campus policies are very strict. What makes it even worse is that a lot of students choose to not drink alcohol or do illegal drugs. This causes students who do participate in these activities to stick out like a sore thumb. If you party at all, be prepared to be judged by many of your peers. You will be looked at like a criminal and your intelligence will not be taken seriously. These rent-a-cops have nothing better to do and only try to beat down the few signs of life on campus.

Living on campus was absolutely horrid this year. The class of 2010 was one of the largest classes ever, if not the largest, and because they guaranteed two years of on campus housing for students, the dorms were extremely overcrowded. I did not want to pay for a single and preferred to live in a double my freshman year. The problem was that because there were so many more students, all doubles turned into triples. To compensate, UCSD refunded all students in triples a mere $500. This is by no means worth the shady living conditions we had to live in. Our dressers were shoved into our closets and we had to make room for an additional bed and desk. Near the end of the 2nd quarter (2/3 of the way through the year), UCSD announced that they were going to begin de-tripling a number of rooms. They gave this offer based on the dates that your housing applications were submitted. If any of one of the three residents in a triple was given an offer to move into a double, all three of the residents will automatically lose the $500 refund that UCSD was giving to compensate for the living conditions. This means that even if your roommate refuses the offer, you still lose your compensation money and you still live in a triple. That is absolute bullsh*t and is just one of the many decisions decided by the administration that screws over the undergraduates.

Do not look at the US News rankings when considering coming to UCSD, or at least try to avoid the rankings when deciding between UC schools. Rankings are determined by statistics from the graduate schools. Do you really think that bioengineering is ranked 2nd in the nation because of the outstanding undergraduate education? The reason bioengineering is ranked so high is because the faculty has a very high faculty to research dollar ratio. The rankings have very little to do with the quality of the education. The undergraduate rankings are then loosely based on the graduate school rankings. UCSD loves to brag about how they have 8 Nobel Prize winners on their faculty. Who gives a flying f*ck? Just because a professor is an extremely successful researcher and an extremely intelligent individual does not mean that they can teach well. Usually, it means that the professors are too sophisticated to properly relay information to students much younger and usually less intelligent than them. Although US News uses the “peer assessment”, how can you objectively compare different universities? The best undergraduate engineering school in the nation (IMO Harvey Mudd College) does not even exist on the same list UCSD is ranked on, so remember that. Recently, UCSD has been receiving a lot of money from government grants, but when those grants stop coming in, UCSD’s rank will stop rising. Also, UCSD overall has risen in their rankings the past few years, but there is no way that they will ever have enough momentum to pass up UC Berkeley or UCLA. UCSD is a very academically lopsided school. Although UCSD’s engineering department is ranked higher than UCLA’s, UCLA takes the cake for every other academic department.

UCSD does have a lot of potential, partly because it has so much room for improvement. They have some rule saying that they will not have a football team. This is big mistake. I think the original idea was that by taking away sports teams, more focus will be put into education…this was such a bad idea. Look at schools like Cal and UCLA, or even Harvard, they all have football teams. If UCSD realized that competitive football teams => more money and greater alumni support=> better school and higher ranking, then they would try to lobby to start a football team. Hopefully, after 10 years of a decent Division I sports program, the atmosphere around campus will change for the better…but don’t expect this to happen any time soon. A Division 1 football team also brings a better sense of community to the campus and gives students a reason to be on campus when they are not in classes. UCSD has a really strong “commuter school” feeling. College should not just be about getting in and out with a degree. There is a lot of growing up to do while in college, which I think UCSD does very little to nurture this aspect. Consequently, graduates could be academically prepared, but will not be able to function outside in the real world. So much of the academic coursework is strictly theory based and students are not given any sense of how to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to the outside world. For people that are destined to be successful in their careers, it does not matter what or what not UCSD does for them. But, if you think that UCSD in any way, whether it be their prestige, career center, alumnus, are going to help you get into graduate/medical school/career, think again.

Another huge thing that bothered me was that 40% of students that live on campus go home on the weekends. I am not exactly sure on the accuracy of that statistic, but I undoubtedly believe it. Almost every weekend, half of my friends (those that lived in LA County) will go home on Friday. During three day weekends, expect very few people to be on campus…very few. When holidays and breaks come around at UCSD, people run away as soon as they possibly can.

I will be impressed if you have read this entire review. I know I came onto this site before I headed out to UCSD and I completely understand if you do not really take anything a say seriously. I am not telling you what you should or should not do. I hate it when people tell me what is right or not right for me. However, I do urge you to consider what I have written about. Like so many others have already said, if you are looking for the typical college experience, UCSD is not right for you. But, if some of the things that I have seen as negative are actually attractive qualities that in a college, then this is the perfect school for you.

questionHello and thanks for sharing, I did read the whole post (funny, useful and do you still feel the same way?). I'm a professor who is applying for a lecturer position at UCSD and want to know what to expect. As part of the process I'm looking for student perspectives - as many as possible. Drop me a line here or at p r o f e s s o r X 1 0 0 0 at gmail dot com using that name without spaces for your replies. Thanks much and good luck! ProfX1000
questionThank you so much for your honest feelings. I did read your entire post. Did you go on to grad school? If so, where did you go and how do you like it there? If you had it to do it over again, where would you have attended undergrad?
responseThis is fucking stupid. why would you even consider ucsd for a nonscience major lol. that would be like asking for a huge pile of debt with no way to pay it off.
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